Frequently Asked Questions
I am new to this! What should I do? Where should I go? Who should I call? We are here to help. We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions of our first time clients. Please feel free to contact us with your specific needs.
What exactly is a customs broker?
A customs broker acts on the behalf of importers and exporters in transactions involving the admissibility of cargo. Customs brokers are highly trained and must stay abreast of current laws to maintain their status. They are required to posses good moral character among other things.
Why do I need a Customs Broker?
Heizwerthy Customs & Freight Solutions is licensed and permitted to legally assist importers with customs matters. Having a customs broker can help you with your reasonable care responsibilities, facilitate the entry of your merchandise, and help you navigate the many rules and regulations governing your imported merchandise.
What documents do I need to clear customs?
Commercial Invoice, Packing List (if available), Bill of Lading, and Arrival Notice. Additional documentation may be required depending on the commodity you are importing.
Commercial Invoices must contain the following information:
- Shippers name and address
- Buyers name and address
- Country of Origin
- Detailed description of the products
- Purchase price and currency of the products
- Terms of sale
- Related charges such as freight, insurance, rebates, licensing fees, and discounts
Requirements, criteria, or format of a commercial invoice, bill of sale, receipt that must be provided when clearing or filing entry documents.
More formalized commercial transactions may need to have additional information on the invoice. For further guidance see 19CFR141.86.
How much does it cost to clear customs?
When you hire your broker, you pay a customs clearance fee and a handling charge for the customs clearance portion ONLY. If your broker files your ISF, there will also be a charge for the ISF filing. You are also liable for any duty, taxes, fees, exams, or storage as a result of an exam. These fees are based on the value of your merchandise and the customs tarrif code. You may pay customs directly for these charges or we can advance these charges to customs on your behalf. We charge a small administrative fee for this service.
Section 484 of the Tariff Act, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1484), states the importer of record is responsible for using reasonable care to enter, classify and determine the value of imported merchandise and to provide any other information necessary to enable the CBP to assess duties properly, collect accurate statistics, and determine whether other applicable legal requirements, if any, have been met.
What are my responsibilities as an importer?
Importing into the United States is a serious matter. You should familiarize yourself with the Reasonable Care publication provided by Customs. It provides a very detailed account of what you are responsible for as the importer of record. It can be found here.
Can my broker pay duties and taxes on by behalf?
If you are the importer of record, payment to the broker will not relieve you of liability for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) charges (duties, taxes or other debts owed CBP) in the event the charges are not paid by the broker. Therefore, if you pay by check, Customs charges may be paid with a separate check payable to the ” Customs and Border Protection” which shall be delivered to CBP by the broker. Importers who wish to utilize this procedure must contact our office in advance to arrange timely receipt of duty checks.
We highly encourage you to arrange electronic payments to customs to avoid any penalties or late payments. We are able to assist you with this.
Where can I find my classification number?
Every item imported into the United States has a customs classification number or HTS code. HTS is short for Harmonized Tariff Schedule. Every product has a 10 digit harmonized code based on standards set by the World Trade Organization. This allows for global classification of any product. You can find your HTS code in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule which is found here. Your broker is trained to assist you in finding your correct classification. The classification determines the duty rate assessed to your goods.
Do I need a customs bond?
If you are importing merchandise into the U.S. for commercial purposes that are valued over $2,500, or a commodity subject to other federal agencies requirements (i.e. firearms or food), you must post a Customs bond to ensure that all duties, taxes and fees owed to the federal government will be paid.
You have the option of obtaining a “single entry” or “continuous bond”. The type of bond you elect to obtain ultimately depends on how often you import into the U.S. For instance, if you only import on occasion, the single entry bond is recommended. If you import frequently (3 or more shipments annually) and through various ports of entry, the continuous bond is beneficial and economically the best choice.
A continuous bond covers all of your transactions INCLUDING ISF filings for a period of one year. If you opt to obtain a single entry bond for your customs entry, you must also post an ISF bond to file your ISF.
What other services does Heizwerthy provide?
We provide all services to get your shipment to you from origin to destination, door to door, cradle to grade, soup to nuts! This includes pickup, delivery, clearance, insurance, and bonds.
Is it better to use a local broker at the port where my goods arrive?
We are nationally licensed and permitted to clear goods at any port or airport in the United States. Our technology allows us to seamlessly and expeditiously clear your goods no matter where you are or where you goods arrive.
What is a freight forwarder?
Freight Forwarders advise importers and exporters on the best rates and routings to move their goods. They are able to provide freight quotes, bookings, and transportation services. Freight Forwarders and Brokers are not the same. A Freight Forwarder assists with the movement of goods. The broker assists with the clearance of goods once they arrive in a customs territory.
Why do I need to submit a power of attorney?
You will need to submit a completed Customs Power of Attorney. The Power of Attorney allows Heizwerthy to transact customs business on your behalf. All US Customs brokers are mandated to have a Power of Attorney on file prior to transacting any customs business on behalf of the importer.